US POLITICS

Jeb Bush’s Speech Was Smarter Than Any Bush Speech To Date

Jeb Bush's announcement was written at a eighth grade level—higher than Dad & Dubya

Jun 15, 2015 at 6:06 PM ET

No surprises here: Jeb Bush (¡Jeb!) speaks more eloquently than his brother, George W. Bush, and even his father, George Sr.

Jeb’s campaign launch announcement speech, delivered in Miami on Monday, was written at a 8th-grade level, while his brother’s 1999 announcement speech could be understood by a fifth grader, according to a Vocativ analysis using the Flesch-Kincaid readability algorithm. Jeb’s campaign kick-off speech ranked higher than the one made by his father, George H.W. Bush, in 1987—7.9 vs. 7.7.

Jeb went bilingual, speaking 61 words in near-perfect Spanish towards the end of his speech, which brought his overall score to an 8th-grade level. He was still edged out by Hillary Clinton’s speech from the previous Saturday, which hit a 8.4 grade level, with a larger vocabulary than any of the Bush men.

Commentators were on guard for signs that Jeb, who lopped his surname off his campaign logo, was deliberately distancing himself from his predecessors in terms of personal brand, but not substance. But while George W’s speech mimicked George Snr’s so closely in content and tone that it almost seemed like a photocopy of what Dad said, Jeb’s speech set him apart significantly.

Another Vocativ study shows that presidential speeches are getting less sophisticated—with Woodrow Wilson’s State of the Union speech ranking 15, John F. Kennedy at 13, and Obama at 9. While Wilson campaigned to educated, rich, white landowners, Jeb is trying to connect with all Americans of all races, with quotes that are easily shared on social media.